Christmas Boxing Day 2010
Christmas Dinner 2010
Merry Christmas Dinner
Back to a traditional Sourville family Christmas this year, goose and all. A bit of a retreat I suppose, but at least we didn't argue so much over the Christmas dvd's this year.

The 12lb goose turned out particularly succulent, cooked foil-wrapped, breast down at Gas 4 for 6 hours, though we didn't turn it over to crisp up the skin. Which we could have.

I made Quince and Hazelnut stuffing this year, following the recipe I used in my latest chumpkin,
with a bit less hazelnut (a scant cup of whole hazelnuts) more finely minced,
3 quince,
1 onion and
6 slices white bread crusts removed.

Though not too bad, I don't think I'd make it again, the hazelnuts make the stuffing just too grainy. I'd be happy to work more with quince though. It's a nice cross between tart apple and pear.

Actually I'm pretty sure this was the year Mum and I had our Christmas Day dinner at the Kashmir Indian restaurant in downtown Bradford.
Kurt had more important people to spend Christmas Day with so Mum and I put off our proper Christmas dinner for a day and went out instead. It all felt a bit like that Chinese Christmas dinner in A Christmas Story - weird and wrong.
But then we cooked up the real deal on Boxing Day, Kurt came around for another Christmas dinner that couldn't be beat, and all was right with the world.

Port Poached pears with Stilton and walnuts
starter veg
Serves 4

Peel the pears and transfer them to a deep saucepan, just large enough to take them all snugly.

Cover the pears with the port and add the spices and the honey. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and leave the pears to poach over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes until they are tender.
It might take double the time if the pears aren't particularly ripe. You can drain the pears and keep them until they are needed once they're poached, overnight if necessary
Remove the pears from the liquid and, when cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthways with a sharp knife and hollow out the cores using a teaspoon or a melon baller. Slice a little off the rounded side of each pear half so they sit flat.

Return the pan of spiced port to the heat strain out the spices and leave to boil rapidly until there is only four tablespoons left. Set this aside.
You'll have more like half a cup (8 tablespoons) of syrup left, it's about ready at the point it starts to foam up in the pan. If you cook it until there are only 4 tablespoons you'll end up with a pot of glue
Preheat the grill to high.

In a food processor, blend together the Stilton and the nuts. process the nuts first to a gritty paste, then add the cheese Spoon some of the mixture into each of the pear halves and place them onto a baking tray.

Cook the pears under the grill for five minutes or until the cheese has melted.

Place one pear half or two onto each plate and spoon over a little of the port and spice sauce. or puddle it under the pears. You can slice a flat section under the pears if you want them to sit nicely on the plate.

Pretty yummy. It works better if the pecans (which I prefer) are ground pretty finely, though the cheese stuffing mixture doesn't really melt over the pears exactly, and remains a bit of a clump. Maybe it would be worth adding a softer cheese to the mix - mascarpone perhaps.
The sauce has a terrific Christmassy aroma - you can pretty much leave the spices in as long as you want, they don't overpower the sauce.

Traditional Eggnog
drink veg
www.eggnogrecipe.net used to be a comprehensive source of eggnog recipes, till it died :(
I chose this recipe 'cos we were in a bit of a hurry and this looked like the quickest, even compared with the site's Easy Eggnog recipe.

I made a quarter of the published recipe, and measured out the volumes in Imperial fluid ounces (worth 28.4ml - 20 per Imperial pint/10 per Imperial cup) since those were the marks on the jug I used.
However, since I assumed the recipe's cup sizes to be U.S. (worth 236.6ml) as opposed to Imperial (worth 284ml) I figured assuming the U.S. proportions of 8 fluid ounces per cup (16 per pint) would give me approximately the right quantities, even though Imperial fluid ounces (28.4ml) are slightly smaller than U.S fluid ounces (29.57ml).
Oh, and I didn't have bourbon, so I just used brandy.

Here are the quantities I used:
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 12 fl oz milk
  • 4 fl oz double cream
  • 5.5 fl oz brandy
  • 3 fl oz sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
It made enough for a couple of glasses for two of us.

Serves 8

In a large bowl and using a mixer or a fork!, beat the egg yolks together with the sugar for approx 10 minutes (you want the mixture to be firm and the colour of butter).
Very slowly, add in the bourbon and brandy - just a little at a time.
When bourbon and brandy have been added, allow the mixture to cool in the fridge (for up to 6 hours, depending on how long before your party you're making the eggnog). or stick the mixture in the freezer for half an hour if you're in a rush

30 minutes before your guests arrive, stir the milk into the chilled yolk mixture.
Stir in 1+ 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg.
In a separate bowl, beat the cream with a mixer on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks.
In yet another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
Gently fold the cream into the egg mixture.
After ladling into cups, garnish with the remainder of the ground nutmeg.
Makes a lovely thick, rich fluffy drink, but it's quite heavy going.
One glass will be enough.
OK, maybe two.

Red Onion Marmalade
pickle sauce veg
You really need a large stock or jam pan for this - I only had a pan just large enough to hold all the ingredients, which meant the reduction times were about double those advertised.

Fills about 4 jam jars

Halve and thinly slice the onions, then thinly slice the garlic. This may take some time! Melt the butter with the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a high heat.
Tip in the onions and garlic and give them a good stir so they are glossed with butter. Sprinkle over the sugar, thyme leaves, chilli flakes if using and some salt and pepper. Give everything another really good stir and reduce the heat slightly. Cook uncovered for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Longer if you are using a smallish pan
The onions are ready when all their juices have evaporated, they're really soft and sticky and smell of sugar caramelising. They should be so soft that they break when pressed against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. Slow cooking is the secret of really soft and sticky onions, so don't rush this part.

Pour in the wine, vinegar and port and simmer everything, still uncovered, over a high heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring every so often until the onions are a deep mahogany colour and the liquid has reduced by about two-thirds. It's done when drawing a spoon across the bottom of the pan clears a path that fills rapidly with syrupy juice. Leave the onions to cool in the pan, then scoop into sterilised jars and seal. Can be eaten straight away, but keeps in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Delicious in bacon sandwiches.
Also supposed to be good with cheese, patés or terrines.
Commercial versions seem to be sweeter and less vinegary than this one, but the flavour here has depth and character.

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